Manatee County’s economic incentives create jobs

BRADENTON — The Manatee County Commission approved two projects Tuesday that will provide 88 above-average-wage jobs.

Commissioners also heard a business representative praise the county’s economic incentive programs.

Brian Lichterman, speaking for Centec Equipment, said he wanted to express how the county’s Economic Development Incentive Grant saved the company money.

He said he started the application process in September, and by March 30 the commission had approved a contract awarding Centec Equipment an estimated $49,000.

The contract requires the utility vehicle refurbishing and sales company to create 50 new jobs paying 115 percent above the average wage over the next five years

That is an average annual salary of $49,000.

One of the two projects approved Tuesday provides that the county will commit to paying IMG Academies $65,000 over five years as an incentive to create 65 new jobs paying 115 percent above the average annual wage.

“IMG Academies is a world-renowned sports performance destination for professional and amateur athletes,” Eric Basinger, executive director of the Manatee Economic Development Council, said in a press release.

“In addition to the jobs IMG provides, the academy’s students fuel the local economy through rental accommodations, retail purchases and restaurant visits.”

According to the press release, IMG will need the additional employees for several new programs, including the Madden Football Academy and the Lacrosse Academy.

The other project, called “Project Blaze,” will provide $23,000 in matching funds for the state’s Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program.

Because the of the type of information the company has to provide to qualify, the name of the company is being kept confidential, according to Cheri Coryea, director of the county Neighborhood Services Department, which handles the economic development incentive programs.

Project Blaze represents a firm with 227 executive, managerial, engineering, technical, marketing, customer service and support, finance and Internet technology jobs in the county.

The company’s contract requires it to create 23 new positions at 200 percent above the average annual wage, or $78,000 a year.

Also, if the firm can qualify for the county incentive program it will receive an additional $69,000.

The Florida Qualified Target Industry program provides incentives to attract specific industries to the state, such as medical research, high-tech or specialized manufacturing that create quality jobs.

The Project Blaze company plans to relocate its world headquarters in Manatee County.

“These programs are important to bringing quality jobs to the county,” Coryea said.

With higher paying jobs, the county’s tax base is expanded and the incentive program helps in maintaining economic diversity and improving the quality of life, she said